Fragments of Science
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Fragments of Science
The history, present and future and nature of science and their relationship
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Betelgeuse captured by ALMA

Betelgeuse captured by ALMA | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
ESO, European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere
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UC biologist looks at butterflies to help solve human infertility

UC biologist looks at butterflies to help solve human infertility | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
UC biologist helps decode the structural complexities of male butterfly ejaculate and co-evolving female reproductive tract. Findings from these biochemical relationships may help unlock certain mysteries of human infertility.
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Water exists as two different liquids

Water exists as two different liquids | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
We normally consider liquid water as disordered with the molecules rearranging on a short time scale around some average structure. Now, however, scientists at Stockholm University have discovered two phases of the liquid with large differences in structure and density. The results are based on experimental studies using X-rays, which are now published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (US).

Most of us know that water is essential for our existence on planet Earth. It is less well-known that water has many strange or anomalous properties and behaves very differently from all other liquids. Some examples are the melting point, the density, the heat capacity, and all-in-all there are more than 70 properties of water that differ from most liquids. These anomalous properties of water are a prerequisite for life as we know it.

"The new remarkable property is that we find that water can exist as two different liquids at low temperatures where ice crystallization is slow", says Anders Nilsson, professor in Chemical Physics at Stockholm University. The breakthrough in the understanding of water has been possible through a combination of studies using X-rays at Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago, where the two different structures were evidenced and at the large X-ray laboratory DESY in Hamburg where the dynamics could be investigated and demonstrated that the two phases indeed both were liquid phases. Water can thus exist as two different liquids.

"It is very exciting to be able to use X-rays to determine the relative positions between the molecules at different times", says Fivos Perakis, postdoc at Stockholm University with a background in ultrafast optical spectroscopy. "We have in particular been able to follow the transformation of the sample at low temperatures between the two phases and demonstrated that there is diffusion as is typical for liquids".
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Discovery of a new mechanism for bacterial division

Discovery of a new mechanism for bacterial division | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
EPFL scientists show how some pathogenic bacteria -- such as the mycobacteria that cause tuberculosis -- use a previously unknown mechanism to coordinate their division. The discovery could help develop new ways to fight them.
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Mice Provide Insight Into Genetics of Autism Spectrum Disorders

Mice Provide Insight Into Genetics of Autism Spectrum Disorders | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
While the definitive causes remain unclear, several genetic and environmental factors increase the likelihood of autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, a group of conditions covering a “spectrum” of symptoms, skills and levels of disability.
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Archaeologists discover earliest monumental Egyptian hieroglyphs

Archaeologists discover earliest monumental Egyptian hieroglyphs | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
A joint Yale and Royal Museums of Art and History (Brussels) expedition to explore the the ancient Egyptian city of Elkab has uncovered some previously unknown rock inscriptions, which include the earliest monumental hieroglyphs dating back around 5,200 years.

These new inscriptions were not previously recorded by any expedition and are of great significance in the history of the ancient Egyptian writing systems, according to Egyptologist John Coleman Darnell, professor in Yale's Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Yale, who co-directs the Elkab Desert Survey Project.

"This newly discovered rock art site of El-Khawy preserves some of the earliest—and largest—signs from the formative stages of the hieroglyphic script and provides evidence for how the ancient Egyptians invented their unique writing system," says Darnell.
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The shapes of galaxies

The shapes of galaxies | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
Since Edwin Hubble proposed his galaxy classification scheme in 1926, numerous studies have investigated the physical mechanisms responsible for the shapes of spiral and elliptical galaxies. Because the processes are complex, however, studies frequently rely on computer simulations as their main tool. The discs of galaxies are believed to form through the collapse of gas which acquires its initial spin in the early Universe. During their subsequent evolution, galaxies undergo a wide range of phenomena, from the accretion of matter—or its outflow—to mergers with other galaxies, all of which modify the disk's spin and angular momentum.

Astronomers think that spiral galaxies with the largest galactic discs formed preferentially in protogalaxies with the highest angular momentum, although early attempts to verify this prediction using computer simulations failed. (More recently, simulations have been able to verify this trend.) Elliptical galaxies, on the other hand, are believed to be the remnants of repeated galaxy mergers, but their shapes depend on many details like the galaxies' masses, gas content, and the collision parameters. As a result, these mergers need to be considered over a cumulative, cosmological context with large numbers of examples to evaluate their development from a statistical perspective.
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The curious case of the warped Kuiper Belt

The curious case of the warped Kuiper Belt | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
The plane of the solar system is warped in the belt's outer reaches, signaling the presence of an unknown Mars-to-Earth-mass planetary object far beyond Pluto, according to UA research. 
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Brain images display the beauty and complexity of consciousness

Brain images display the beauty and complexity of consciousness | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
Neuroscientist-turned-artist Greg Dunn created these amazing images by turning information about how the brain processes information into etched pieces of art
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Blue Brain team discovers a multi-dimensional universe in brain networks

Blue Brain team discovers a multi-dimensional universe in brain networks | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
Using a sophisticated type of mathematics in a way that it has never been used before in neuroscience, a team from the Blue Brain Project has uncovered a universe of multi-dimensional geometrical structures and spaces within the networks of the brain. This research, published in Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience, has significant implications for our understanding of the brain.
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Scientists Discover That Light Can Behave Like a Liquid

Scientists Discover That Light Can Behave Like a Liquid | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
t's no secret that light is made up of waves, specifically electromagnetic waves. It has also been known for some time now that visible light is carried by photons (as are all types of electromagnetic radiation). Because of its unique properties, many scientists have found that light acts as both a wave and a particle, but more recent developments show that light is much stranger and more complex than scientists had previously given it credit for. According to recent findings, light can also behave like a liquid.
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Graphene transistor could mean computers that are 1,000 times faster

Graphene transistor could mean computers that are 1,000 times faster | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
Transistors based on graphene ribbons could result in much faster, more efficient computers and other devices. Researchers use a magnetic field to control current flow.
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A single molecule is missing and the cell world is empty

A single molecule is missing and the cell world is empty | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
Many diseases are related to defective cell division; cancer is one of them. Researchers at the UNIGE have turned their attention in particular to the role of ESCRT proteins, which are responsible for severing cell membranes. These proteins assemble in spirals that gradually bring about cleavage of the membrane, spirals that are constantly renewing themselves with the help of the Vps4 molecule. Without this molecule the renewal stops, eventually preventing the membrane from being severed.
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Nil Communication: How to Send a Message without Sending Anything at All

Nil Communication: How to Send a Message without Sending Anything at All | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
Physicists have exploited the laws of quantum mechanics to send information without transmitting a signal. But have they, really?
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Scientists create better tools to study the processes of life

Scientists create better tools to study the processes of life | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
Scientists have developed a new biological tool for examining molecules - the building blocks of life - which they say could provide new insights and other benefits such as reducing the numbers of animals used in experiments.

The University of Leeds in collaboration with Avacta Life Sciences, a Leeds spin-out company has developed tools, called Affimer technology, which can replicate the work of animal-derived antibodies traditionally used to help study biological molecules and processes.

Like antibodies, Affimer technology can bind tightly to a target molecule to help scientists study its actions. However, Affimer proteins are superior in being more robust, smaller, easier to modify to suit different applications and more specific to the target of interest.

Research published today in the journal eLife explains how Affimer tools can be produced in a matter of weeks, rather than the many months it can take to create a high quality antibody.

Dr Darren Tomlinson, from the Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology and BioScreening Technology Group at the University of Leeds, said: "Molecules are notoriously difficult to study and therefore tools are required that allow molecules behaviour to be studied indirectly. Such tools, like Affimer technology provides an easy and more reliable way to track molecules movements and study how they react to different stimuli which will make the study of diseases they can cause much easier."
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'On your mark, get set'—Neutrons run enzyme's reactivity for better biofuel production

'On your mark, get set'—Neutrons run enzyme's reactivity for better biofuel production | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
Producing biofuels like ethanol from plant materials requires various enzymes to break down the cellulosic fibers. Scientists using neutron scattering have identified the specifics of an enzyme-catalyzed reaction that could significantly reduce the total amount of enzymes used, improving production processes and lowering costs.

Researchers from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory and North Carolina State University used a combination of X-ray and neutron crystallography to determine the detailed atomic structure of a specialized fungal enzyme. A deeper understanding of the enzyme reactivity could also lead to improved computational models that will further guide industrial applications for cleaner forms of energy. Their results are published in the journal Angewandte ChemieInternational Edition.

Part of a larger family known as lytic polysaccharide monooxygenases, or LPMOs, these oxygen-dependent enzymes act in tandem with hydrolytic enzymes—which chemically break down large complex molecules with water—by oxidizing and breaking the bonds that hold cellulose chains together. The combined enzymes can digest biomass more quickly than currently used enzymes and speed up the biofuel production process.
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Artificial iris could let cameras react to light like our eyes do • World News

Artificial iris could let cameras react to light like our eyes do • World News | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
While the pupil may be the opening in the eye that lets light through to the retina, the iris is the tissue that opens and closes to determine the size of the pupil. Although mechanical irises are already a standard feature in cameras, scientists from Finland and Poland have recently created an autonomous artificial iris …
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Close-Up View of DNA Replication Yields Surprises

Close-Up View of DNA Replication Yields Surprises | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
Almost all life on earth is based on DNA being copied, or replicated, and understanding how this process works could lead to a wide range of discoveries in biology and medicine. Now for the first time scientists have been able to watch individual steps in the replication of a single DNA molecule, with some surprising findings. For one thing, there’s a lot more randomness at work than has been thought.
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Cancer hijacks natural cell process to survive

Cancer hijacks natural cell process to survive | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
Cancer tumours manipulate a natural cell process to promote their survival suggesting that controlling this mechanism could stop progress of the disease, according to new research led by the University of Oxford.

Non-sense mediated decay (NMD) is a natural physiological process that provides cells with the ability to detect DNA errors called nonsense mutations. It also enables these cells to eliminate the mutated message (decay) that comes from these faulty genes, before they can be translated into proteins that can cause disease formation. NMD is known among the medical community for the role it plays in the development of genetic diseases such as Cystic Fibrosis and some hereditary forms of cancers. But not all nonsense mutations can elicit NMD, so until now, it's wider impact on cancer was largely unknown.

Biomedical researchers and computer scientists from the University of Oxford Medical Sciences Division and the University of Birmingham developed a computer algorithm to mine DNA sequences from cancer to accurately predict whether or not an NMD would eliminate genes that had nonsense mutations. The work originally focused on ovarian cancers, and found that about a fifth of these cancers use NMD, to become stronger. This is because NMD ensures that the message from a gene called TP53, which ordinarily protects cells from developing cancer is almost completely eliminated. In the absence of NMD, a mutated TP53 might still retain some activity but NMD ensures that this is not the case.

Based on this research, the team predicts that because cancers essentially feed on NMD, they become dependent on it in some cases. If scientists were therefore able to inhibit or control the process, it is possible that they could also control cancer and prevent the progression of the disease.
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New research reveals impact of seismic surveys on zooplankton

New research reveals impact of seismic surveys on zooplankton | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
Marine seismic surveys used in petroleum exploration could cause a two to three-fold increase in mortality of adult and larval zooplankton, new research published in leading science journal Nature Ecology and Evolution has found.

Scientists from IMAS and the Centre for Marine Science and Technology (CMST) at Curtin University studied the impact of commercial seismic surveys on zooplankton populations by carrying out tests using seismic air guns in the ocean off Southern Tasmania.
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The ‘time machine’ reconstructing ancient Venice’s social networks

The ‘time machine’ reconstructing ancient Venice’s social networks | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
Machine-learning project will analyse 1,000 years of maps and manuscripts from the floating city's golden age.
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Galaxy alignments traced back 10 billion years

Galaxy alignments traced back 10 billion years | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
A new study led by Michael West of Lowell Observatory and Roberto De Propris of the University of Turku, Finland, reveals that the most massive galaxies in the universe have been aligned with their surroundings for at least ten billion years. This discovery shows that galaxies, like people, are influenced by their environment from a young age.
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Lab on a chip could monitor health, germs and pollutants

Lab on a chip could monitor health, germs and pollutants | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
Imagine wearing a device that continuously analyzes your sweat or blood for different types of biomarkers, such as proteins that show you may have breast cancer or lung cancer. Rutgers engineers have invented biosensor technology -- known as a lab on a chip -- that could be used in hand-held or wearable devices to monitor your health and exposure to dangerous bacteria, viruses and pollutants.
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Scientists make plastic from sugar and carbon dioxide

Scientists make plastic from sugar and carbon dioxide | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
Some biodegradable plastics could in the future be made using sugar and carbon dioxide, replacing unsustainable plastics made from crude oil, following research by scientists from the Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies (CSCT) at the University of Bath.

Safer form of polycarbonate plastic

Polycarbonate is used to make drinks bottles, lenses for glasses and in scratch-resistant coatings for phones, CDs and DVDs

Current manufacture processes for polycarbonate use BPA (banned from use in baby bottles) and highly toxic phosgene, used as a chemical weapon in World War One

Bath scientists have made alternative polycarbonates from sugars and carbon dioxide in a new process that also uses low pressures and room temperature, making it cheaper and safer to produce

This new type of polycarbonate can be biodegraded back into carbon dioxide and sugar using enzymes from soil bacteria

This new plastic is bio-compatible so could in the future be used for medical implants or as scaffolds for growing replacement organs for transplant.

Polycarbonates from sugars offer a more sustainable alternative to traditional polycarbonate from BPA, however the process uses a highly toxic chemical called phosgene. Now scientists at Bath have developed a much safer, even more sustainable alternative which adds carbon dioxide to the sugar at low pressures and at room temperature.
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Researchers find a surprise just beneath the surface in carbon dioxide experiment

Researchers find a surprise just beneath the surface in carbon dioxide experiment | Fragments of Science | Scoop.it
An X-ray technique, coupled with theoretical work, revealed how oxygen atoms embedded very near the surface of a copper sample had a more dramatic effect on the early stages of the reaction with carbon dioxide (CO2) than earlier theories could account for. This information could prove useful in designing new types of materials to further enhance reactions and make them more efficient in converting carbon dioxide into liquid fuels and other products.
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